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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    CHARAGTJSK               55

that this life shall be lived decently and happily within one's

lot.

For the Chinese are a hard-boiled lot. There is no nonsense
about them: they do not live in order to die, as the Christians
pretend to do, nor do they seek for a Utopia on earth, as many
seers of the West do. They just want to order this life on earth,
which they know to be full of pain and sorrow, so that they
may work peaceably, endure nobly, and live happily. Of the
noble virtues of the West, of nobility, ambition, zeal for reform,
public spirit, sense for adventure and heroic courage, the
Chinese are devoid. They cannot be interested in climbing
Mont Blanc or in exploring the North Pole. But they are
tremendously interested in this commonplace world, and they
have an indomitable patience, an indefatigable industry, a
sense of duty, a level-headed common sense, cheerfulness,
humour, tolerance, pacifism, and that unequalled genius for
finding happiness in hard environments which we call con-
tentment—qualities that make this commonplace life enjoyable
to them. And chief of these are pacifism and tolerance, which
are the mark of a mellow culture, and which seem to be lacking
in modern Europe.

Indeed it seems at times, on watching the spectacle of
present-day Europe, that she is suffering less from a lack of
"smartness" or intellectual brilliance than from the lack of a
little mellow wisdom. It seems at times barely possible that
Europe will outgrow its hot-headed youthfulness and its in-
tellectual brilliance, and that after another century of scientific
progress, the world will be brought so closely together that the
Europeans will learn to take a more tolerant view of life and
of each other, at the risk of total annihilation. They will
perhaps learn to be a little less brilliant, and a little more
mature. I have confidence that the change of view will be
brought about, not by brilliant theories but by an instinct for
self-preservation. Perhaps then the West will learn to believe
less in self-assertion and more in tolerance, for tolerance will
be direly needed when the world is closely knit together. They
will be a little less desirous to make progress, and a little more
anxious to understand life. And the voice of the Old Man of
Hankukuan Pass will be listened to more widely.